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Quick Whistles: Trusting the Process, Brady Skjei’s Best Game, South East Reign

The best game of Brady Skjei’s career helped fuel another statemen

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at Columbus Blue Jackets Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

One month ago, the Carolina Hurricanes lost their fourth game in five outings, scoring just seven goals across those four defeats.

After a dominant run to start the season, the offense hit a wall despite generating more than enough chances to score goals and win games. As is the nature of the business, the crosshairs shifted to the process, and Rod Brind’Amour defended the way his team was playing.

“We’re getting lots of opportunities,” Brind’Amour said after a 3-2 loss to the league-worst Ottawa Senators. “We’re getting lots of scoring chances. You can’t change that. There’s just no way around it. Are the guys feeling it? Yup. They’re upset that they’re not scoring and that we’re not getting the results. It’s a double whammy right now. I know this because we’ve done it. Everybody’s done it. There’s nothing you can change.”

As usual, he was right about his assertion.

Going into their Saturday afternoon matchup with the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Canes had won three straight games and seven of their last eight. But again, they were forced to trust the process as they quickly fell behind 4-0 despite doubling the Jackets in expected goals near the midway point of the game.

Then, the floodgates opened wide.

The Hurricanes racked up seven unanswered goals across 29:19 of in-game time to rally and secure a comfortable win. They did it by sticking to their game plan.

“We were generating all the offense, maybe the most we have in any game at the start,” said Brind’Amour. “We were just thinking we were going to score and forgot about the defense. We gave up odd-man rush after odd-man rush and you can’t do that. You score off the rush in this league. It was very uncharacteristic, but it was what was killing us. I think we were getting so many chances we were just like, ‘Oh, we’re going to get one here.’”

It was a statement win for this team and how they play. They pulled off one of the biggest comebacks in recent NHL history, and they did it without a single point from Sebastian Aho or Teuvo Teravainen, the duo that has fueled their offense over the last few weeks.

With every game that goes by, it becomes more and more obvious that this team has a special quality. Through 31 games, they’ve only lost by more than two goals twice, and both of those games were three-goal deficits that included an empty-netter.

This Hurricanes team is never out of a game, and their ability to pop off with offensive at any moment makes it so that they can win every night.

Saturday was just another impressive showing from an increasingly impressive hockey team.

Brady’s Best

It was a big weekend for Brady’s, but while Tom beating the New York Jets is something that has happened almost twice every season for the last 20 years, another Brady did something that he had only done twice in his career.

Brady Skjei scored two goals against Columbus. It was his first multi-goal game since February 24, 2019, but his impact on the game went well beyond his pair of goals. In 22:35 of ice time, he had the second-most shots on goal among all Carolina skaters, and he set career-best numbers across a plethora of metrics.

When Skjei was on the ice at 5-on-5, the Hurricanes generated a whopping 34 shot attempts to just five shot attempts against, 22 shots on goal to just one against, 15 scoring chances for to just one against, three goals for to zero against, and 2.07 expected goals-for to just .08 expected goals-against.

His 87.18 CF%, 96.4 xGF%, and 93.75 SCF% were all career-best marks for the seventh-year defenseman.

It’s been another up and down year for Skjei to this point, but unlike last season, he’s had a good number of standout games where he looks like a high-level all-around defenseman. His effort against Columbus was undoubtedly his best as a member of the Hurricanes, though, and it may have been his best game in the NHL.

The Old South East

The Hurricanes, Washington Capitals, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Florida Panthers have a combined record of 85-28-18 and account for four of the top five slots in the NHL standings.

I honestly miss the Atlanta Thrashers... I really do.